Thu, Apr 16, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Ma's envoy to meet Chinese premier in Boao this weekend

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

When Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) meets Taiwan’s envoy to the annual Boao Forum, both sides plan to exchange opinions on the economic pact Taipei is seeking to sign with Beijing.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) announced yesterday that Wen would meet Fredrick Chien (錢復), the nation’s envoy to the Boao Forum for Asia, which is scheduled to be held in Hainan Province from tomorrow through Sunday.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who met Chien at the Presidential Office yesterday afternoon, asked Chien to relay his personal message to “everyone, including the mainland representatives.”

The 16-character message says both sides should “cross a river in the same boat,” meaning to pull together in times of trouble, to support each other, deepen cooperation and start a new future.

As both sides are to hold a high-level meeting either later this month or early next month, Ma said his envoy would “conduct necessary talks” on an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) that his administration is seeking with Beijing.

Emphasizing the urgency of the planned pact, Ma said he hoped Chien would touch on the topic during their visit and make it clear to Beijing that the planned accord would be conducive to both sides.

Ma said both sides could work on the areas where there was consensus and on items that were mutually beneficial. Based on a general agreement in these areas, Ma said both sides could map out “early harvest” provisions and leave for later discussion those areas where both sides failed to reach a consensus or which were unfavorable to Taiwan.

Ma said on Tuesday that an ECFA could take up to five years to complete.

While the opposition has cast doubt on attending the economic forum, which it has criticized as setting the agenda for cross-strait negotiations, Ma yesterday said that attending was a necessity.

Ma said that while Washington and Beijing have more than 60 communication channels, the two sides of the Taiwan Strait had only established a platform since he took office in May.

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